By Samuel Rosenberg
AS night follows day and the wet season follows the dry season, bills will arrive every month. Where you are struggling to pay your bills by month end and before your next salary cheque arrives – that situation will continue unless you make great effort to change your income, your outgoings or both.
Where you are the person who has to rush to stand in line to pay a bill past its due date, but close enough to avoid disconnection, then you need to plan ahead more.
The feeling of deja-vu exactly matches how you react when you open another bill and know you do have not enough dollars left in your account to pay it, until you are paid again.
The good news is that you are not alone. As many as half of the population struggle to clear bills each month and that applies equally to the poorly paid and the medium rich. Yes, the people you perceive as having plenty of money live with different standards of housing, utility bills and spend all their spare money on socialising. They buy the expensive car, pay the insurance and run costs monthly.
Unfortunately, without simple budgeting, many individuals struggle to pay their bills on time because they live up to their last cent and forget to worry about paying bills before having fun.
By taking a step back and taking time to analyse your income and your expenses – your outgoings – you can quickly see whether you have enough money to cover your bills or whether drastic action is required.
One option is to increase your income, but it is often easier to reduce your outgoings. How can you reduce your utility bills each month by using less electricity and water? Can you buy food more efficiently, more healthily and cut out some excesses you do not really require?
Sometimes there will be an emergency that takes your finances out of control. A large repair bill expense on your car may cause you cash flow problems, but by saving a little each month towards an emergency fund, you can build up a fund that can take care of those difficulties, without attacking your usual income and bills.
There are some bills that you must always pay on time, to ensure your home is protected for you and your family. Your mortgage (or rent) and utility bills are essential, but is a high cell phone bill really necessary. Can you use a slower speed of internet connection to save money each month? Eat at home more often than eating out. Make your own lunch instead of buying from fast food outlets.
When you do not pay on time some companies charge late fees and these can take away what spare money you thought you had. A $50 fee on a $200 bill means a 25% increase to your debt.
By being in control of what size bills to expect and when they arrive, you will soon find a way to keep ahead of them and to manage your overall finances more effectively. That will help you smile at the end of each month, especially when you see you have spare funds and can afford an unplanned family meal out in a restaurant or an extra delight for your children and still be in credit.